I get into my car after a long day of teaching and it’s one hundred and eight billion degrees in there. My body goes into zombie mode as I try to get things done in the car without moving a lot: turn the keys, pull the sunshade down, crank the AC. My 2001 Sonata gives me a gentle puff of nearly cool air, after being on for awhile.
I’m driving down the road, reviewing the day. I can’t believe that kid plagiarized his paper, like I wasn’t going to catch him referring to himself as a girl. I can’t believe that NewMan suggested that the student might be transgendered. Maybe the student is. NewMan always makes me think.
I stop at a light, surrounded by cars and cameras, which makes me think about the accident I had a few weeks ago, the guy who rear-ended me, and the fact that there seems to be some kind of investigation going on involving possible surveillance evidence. God, that’s just what I need, a videotape of the accident showing me in the wrong. Back to jail. I hate that feeling.
I drive along with the rush-hour traffic, another mile and a half, getting close to my gym’s turn-off. I’m already hungry and wiped out and I have to get up early for the kitten’s surgery so I might as well just skip the gym and go to Home Depot since I have to stop at the pet store anyway. I slink into the middle lane and then the far lane, away from the gym, and I feel greasy. I haven’t showered since yesterday morning, time being tight.
I park my car, reach into the back seat for the broken 1984 motion detector light that used to hang on my house, and zombie-walk into Home Depot, flailing down the middle corridor and hanging a left, back to where I know the lighting department is. Apparently I am the only person who knows where the lighting department is because I stand there alone, being my best monster in the deserted aisles. Several minutes pass before I scream out, “DOES ANYBODY WORK HERE???”
Mr. Ed gallops in from the paint department. “Helloooo!” he says, stopping in his tracks right in front of me. “How can I help youuuu?”
I whip around my stiff zombie-arm with the light fixture tied to my hand. “I need something like this,” I say, and Mr. Ed noses around to find me something I like even better. I’m too grumpy to smile when I say thank you. I stomp up to the registers, pay, and leave with both the old dead motion detector light and the shiny new one. I throw them both in the trunk.
One last stop: the pet store. I’ve run out of food for my older cats again. How can I keep doing this? Since when did it become okay to not have an extra bag of food on hand? This is the third time this year that you’ve run out of food…is that acceptable? What’s wrong with you? I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I know I never seem to have enough time for everything. I spend the rest of the trip making a mental list of everything in my life that seems neglected, and everything in my life is on the list.
I get to the pet store and there are two kinds of carts available when you first walk in: normal big ones, and smaller ones, all of them red. The smaller ones looked kind of midgety, but I only need a few things, so I grab one and push it towards the cat food aisle. The front and the back wheels on the left side are stuck and dragging; I have to throw my weight into the left side to keep it going straight. We make a great zombie team, me and this cart.
On the way to the food aisle I remember that I could use some litter, so I grab two fifty pound jugs of it and haul them into the midget cart. None of the wheels are moving at all now, so I just keep shoving it across the linoleum. I park it in the food section and load up some bags of adult cat food, then I run over to the birdseed aisle quick to see if there might be a sale. Sure enough there is, so I bear-hug one bag at a time off the lowest shelf, haul it across the center aisle, and into the broken midget cart. I wrestle one bag onto the cart’s lowest shelf for some kind of balance, and shove it towards the check-out stations like Bigfoot might shove a boxcar.
There is only one checker, so it takes time to make it through the line, and there is no one to help me out. Not that I usually let anybody.
Soon enough I am slamming the trunk door; I am one sweaty Yeti saying goodbye to the midget cart. Without the dead weight of all my purchases, the wheels have sprung back enough so that the cart can be rolled again. I push it across the parking lot in the general direction of the store's front door. Adios, amigo. It stops and rolls back. I stride up to it, grab it, swing it around, then march it off towards an empty space behind my car. It’s far from the front door, but at least it won’t roll.
I back up and hit the midget cart.
I fly out of my car as fast as a zombie can and hulk over to the cart, now even more crippled than before. I grab the handle and easily tip it over on its side; its wheels spin. It’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
I know how it feels.